Over the years, the General Union has played host to a handful of "OP-ED" articles written by members and non-members alike. For example, one of our most recent opinion articles - "The Myth of Low Cost Dispatching" - garnered quite a lot of attention on both Facebook and our website.
These kinds of articles help the General Union AND our readers by providing information and opinions from grass-roots levels, allowing us to see what issues are important to the expat community in Japan, and making us aware of perspectives and situations we might not have previously considered.
Now, as we roll into a new year, we'd like to extend an open offer for more people to write OP-ED articles, and let you have your say on the General Union's website and Facebook page.
If you're interested, keep reading to find out what we need from you to make your voice heard.
- Herbert Bayard Swope
An OP-ED is, as you may or may not know, an "opinion editorial" (originally: "opposite the editorial page", which doesn't translate to the internet) which "expresses the opinion of an author usually not affiliated with the publication's editorial board" - in this context, General Union staff.
In a nutshell, we'd like for members of the public to share their opinions on things that matter to them, be they work-related, law-related, or just perspectives on institutions and establishments in Japanese academic and business culture.
If you happen to be someone who would like to get something off their chest, here's what you need to know before you sit down and write an article for our consideration:
1. IT WILL BE ANONYMOUS (UNLESS YOU DON'T WANT IT TO BE)
The General Union will not publish your name or any other identifying details unless you explicitly ask us to do so (for example, if you have a website or blog that you want to shill).
While it's sometimes important to stand by your convictions, the General Union understands that some employers might not be happy with what you say, and attempt to punish(/blacklist) you for having opinions.
2. IT MUST NOT BE LIBELLOUS
This should go without saying, but it's always worth reiterating: while we are keen to publish your thought and opinions, the General Union is not a "personal army", nor is it a tool with which to strike at a company without exposing yourself in the process.
Suffice to say, articles should avoid from malicious attacks on named companies and/or individuals, and should have more substance than "I am angry".
In addition, articles should generally refrain from calling companies and/or individuals out unless there is substantive evidence to support what they are being called out over (e.g. critiques on a shakai hoken policy e-mail should include the e-mail in question, instead of attacking hearsay).
3. SOURCES ARE WONDERFUL
While OP-EDs tend to be opinion-based, backing those opinions up with sources (and facts / evidence) really goes a long way towards strengthening the foundation of the point you want to make. However, while they are preferred (see: libel concerns), they are not always required. Personal anecdotes do not, for example, always need to be sourced.
4. AVOID FALLACIES AND WEASEL WORDS
Straw Men, false equivalency, and sweeping generalizations, do not a good opinion piece make. In addition, try to avoid weasel words like "some people say..." and "many people think..." unless you can back it up with evidence.
5. THE GENERAL UNION RESERVES EDITORIAL RIGHTS
Again, while we certain encourage (and will appreciate!) any OP-EDs you send our way, the General Union reserves the right to not publish any articles that we deem to be unsuitable for the General Union website.
While we are clear that the General Union itself did not write the article, the act of publishing articles on our website still lends a certain amount of union support / association to the article (and the views and opinions that it contains) in question.
In addition, the General Union reserves the right to edit articles (for brevity, content, formatting, etc) as we deem fit, and equally reserve the right to remove articles at any time for any reasons, should we deem it appropriate.
6. THE GENERAL UNION MIGHT NOT PUBLISH YOUR ARTICLE AT ALL
This is also one of those things that doesn't really need to be said, but (for posterity) we need to note that the act of submitting an article to the General Union is not a promise that the article will be published on the General Union's website.
There are a number of reasons why this might not be the case (for example: libellous content; incorrect information; inflammatory language; etc), and we have no obligation to say why an article will not be published, or even that it will (or will not) be published at all.
SUBMITTING AN OP-ED
Naturally, much of what is written above this line is for liability purposes, and it's more than likely that those six points are not something that most people need to be told (but we hope you understand why they needed to be stated).
Be that as it may, if you still want to write an OP-ED for consideration, please e-mail the article to union(@)generalunion.org with the tag of "[OP-ED]" in the subject line, followed by the title of the article.
Articles should generally be between 500 and 1000 words (fewer than 500 words is fine, too!).
We sincerely look forward to seeing what people have to say!
PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED OP-EDS
The Myth of Low Cost Dispatching
"...it is "too expensive" for boards of education to directly hire people. In contrast, dispatch companies provide ALTs "on the cheap"; they "create jobs" for people that would otherwise not exist were there no other options. Or do they?"
It's A Matter Of Dignity
"As a part-timer, I am treated well enough. I'm even enrolled in health and pension insurance. All that changed this week as I attempted to prepare for the new semester. With a rebuilding program almost completed, we moved into new classrooms and offices. They say change is a good thing. Well, I'm not so sure..."
"No Hands" Policy!
"Sitting in my staffroom the other afternoon, I cringed as I watched a Japanese colleague repeatedly hit a student over the head quite forcefully. It took me back to my teacher training days..."
Joining the GU: Now More Than Ever, No Time To Waste
"Given my union upbringing, I was fully aware of the union-busting, illegal contracting, scab employment and scare tactics that companies (and sad to say, government institutions as well) put into effect to hinder people from getting their basic rights as workers. It is amazing how the general populace is unaware of their own rights..."